Movie: Call of the Wild (2020)

computer-generated dog

Call of the WildI’ve never read Jack London’s Call of the Wild. As far as I can remember, I’ve not seen any movie or television adaptations.

What drew me to the nearby Madison Theatre a few days before everything went into lockdown were two things: Harrison Ford’s presence and the $5 ticket price all day on Tuesdays.

An overly large pooch, a St. Bernard/Scotch Collie mix, seemed to have the run of a California home. Then he was dognapped and shipped north to Alaska.

He was purchased as part of a sled dog team operated by Perrault (Omar Sy) and Françoise (Cara Gee). Eventually, he crosses paths, for the third time, with John Thornton (Ford). Thornton protects Buck against the cruel Hal (Dan Stevens), who had stolen and beaten Buck.

Thornton and Buck go on an expedition further north practically to the Arctic Circle. In this environment, the once pampered Buck gets in touch with his primitive roots when interacting with a pack of wolves. The story was OK.

NOt a real dog

I was more curious whether I would buy the computer-generated dog in Call of the Wild as real. The answer is, “Sometimes.” The technique was less effective in the early narrative. Or maybe the storyline was just too goofy. But in his relationship with Perrault and Françoise, and later with Thornton, “he” usually resonated as a dog more believably.

I credit the fact that those performers were interacting with actor/stuntman Terry Notary, who modeled all of Buck’s actions. Those actors all expressed admiration for Notary’s work, giving them someone credible and emotive to perform with, rather than a blue screen.

There was a small audience for the 1 p.m. show. I ordered a burger, slightly overpriced but good.

It took SO long for the Madison Theatre to reopen. I hope it can withstand the current disruption. Good news is that it’s still selling food, pickup/delivery only. I’m inclined to order from them when I can.

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